The Consultation

Can’t take it in, subtract what’s salient,
the facts that matter from the matter of fact.
Distant church bell, his lines, what’s in between,
the scent of daffodils, just won’t parse out.
Your world is closing in yet it’s not you.
Later, when he has gone, the questions hit
and run, the tears, the goings over stuff,
relentless measurings of bad or good.
It’s broken out and yet the nodes look clear.
You’re hanging on to nurses’ lore; their down-
to-earthiness is comforting somehow
and yet, in truth, they know no more than you.
What sticks, like bread and butter when your throat’s
as parched as hay, he wished her best of luck.

—Peter Branson, Rode Heath, UK